She likes to cook, partly because of her job. She says her patients talk all the time about food, now that they can’t eat what they want. They often ask what she makes, and she likes to give them a good answer.
Clay roofs and chimney pots rise above a high brick wall alongside me, and then it wraps around, enclosing the village. Past the wall is a field of dry shrubs and hedges with a few paths tunnelling through them. At its edge, a man in a green hat tends a trash fire. Charred leaves rise on the draughts and spin into the white sky, floating over the field.
From my bag, I take out the folder of properties to let in Cornwall. Over the summer, Rachel and I rented a house in Polperro. Both of us have time off at Christmas and plan to book a house this weekend.
Polperro is built into the folds of a coastal ravine. Whitewashed houses with flat fronts and slate roofs nestle in the green rivulets. Between the two cliffs is a harbour and, past a sea wall, an inner harbour, large enough for maybe a dozen small sailing boats, with houses and pubs built to the water’s edge on the quay. When the tide is out, the boats in the inner harbour rest on their hulls in the mud. On the western hook of the ravine are two square merchant’s houses—one a tweed-brown brick, the other white. Above them, umbrella pines stand outlined against the sky. Past the merchant’s houses, on the point, a fisherman’s croft is built into the rocks. The croft is made of rough granite, so on foggy days it blurs into the stones around it. The house we rented was on a headland ten minutes’ walk along the coast path from Polperro, and included a private staircase with seventy-one steps built up the cliff from the beach.
I loved Cornwall with a mad, jealous ardour. I was twenty-nine and had only just discovered it, but it belonged to me. The list of things I loved about Cornwall was long but not complete.
It included our house of course, and the town; the Lizard Peninsula, and the legend of King Arthur, whose seat was a few miles up the coast at Tintagel. The town of Mousehall, pronounced mouzall. Daphne du Maurier and Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again, and of course you did, anyone who left here would. The widow’s walks. The photographs of wrecks, and of townspeople in long brown skirts and jackets, dwarfed by the ruined hulls, that decorated the pubs.